So, I’ve taken you through How to Plan a Road Trip Abroad, Travel Tips: Packing for Ireland, and Travel Guide: A Road Trip Through Ireland, Part One. In Part One, I explored Galway, the Aran Islands (my absolute favorite part of the trip!), and the route to Killarney, which included the Burren, the Wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher, and Adare.
PART TWO OF AN IRISH ROAD TRIP
Now, it’s time to go onward through the second leg of the trip, which will cover Killarney, Kilkenny, and Dublin. There’s just slightly less driving on this part of the trip, and lots more eating, drinking, and shopping recommendations.
DAY FOUR: KILLARNEY
Initially, our Ireland trip included two nights in Killarney with one day allowing for a day trip out to Dingle, a super hip city on the East Coast of Ireland. Well, this is where our flexibility in traveling was put to the test. After several driving heavy days, we were exhausted. We just wanted to stay put for a second. And so, we made the executive decision to cut Dingle from our itinerary and just hang out in Killarney.
While I would have loved to see Dingle, it was definitely the right decision. We were able to experience much more of Killarney than we ever would have been able to if it had just been bookending another day trip.
- WHERE TO STAY: We stayed at the the Cahernane House Hotel and it couldn’t have been more perfect. It feels like an old country estate – which it was at one time – yet it’s a 5 minute drive from the heart of downtown. It’s been impeccably renovated and couldn’t be more gorgeous. It wasn’t too expensive, yet it feel so high end – and my standards are high. The complimentary glass of champagne and delicious breakfast didn’t hurt, either.
- WHAT TO DO: I’m not a big hiker, but the Gap of Dunloe is a leisurely stroll of a hike that takes you through some of the most unbelievable Irish vistas. While you can also drive the Gap or go in a horse drawn wagon, it’s an easy walk and only takes a few hours, so I would recommend just getting out there and getting some fresh air.
- WHAT TO SEE: Looking for a bit of history? We did the brief tour at Killarney House and Gardens while we were exploring downtown and spent a bit of time strolling around its grounds. On the way out of town, we made a quick stop by the ruins of Ross Castle which occupies a stunning place of lakefront real estate right outside of downtown.
- WHERE TO EAT: In my previous post, I mentioned La Rambla, the awesome Spanish tapas we had when we were craving something besides Irish food. We also had a quick lunch at a cute little spot called Noelle’s, which I would recommend if you’re looking for a sandwich. In the mood for pizza? The gourmet pizzas and craft beer at Killarney Brewing Company felt like something we’d have back in the states, but I was definitely on board.
- WHERE TO DRINK: If there’s one place you must stop for a drink in Killarney, it’s Europe Hotel. This stunning modern hotel is right on the lake and we happened to be there on the most perfect evening. We each did the option to craft your own gin and tonic with local gins and various add-ins. Since I have a serious chocolate addiction, Adam signed us up for a Whiskey and Chocolate pairing class at the Irish Whiskey Experience and it was a fun way to try several local whiskies that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.
DAY FIVE: KILLARNEY TO KILKENNY
From Killarney, we drove roughly two hours and 45 minutes up the road towards Dublin to the town of Kilkenny. Our day in Kilkenny was our only true rainy day of the trip, which did put a bit of a damper on our time there, but we made the best of it and explored as much as we could of the downtown as we hopped from place to place taking cover from the rain.
- WHERE TO EAT: We started off our time in Kilkenny with an authentic Irish meal at Langton’s Bar and ended it with a decidedly non-Irish meal at an Italian restaurant which came highly recommended, Ristorante Rinuccini. There are restaurants and places to grab a quick snack all over downtown, and had we had more time, I would have loved to try out foodworks.
- WHERE TO SHOP: There was certainly shopping to be done in Kilkenny! You’ll find shops on every street, but my favorite was Folkster, which had floors of vintage, boutique, and bridal. All my favorite things! The Kilkenny Design Centre came highly recommended, but unfortunately, part of it was closed for renovation when we were there. I’ve heard it’s typically worth a stop though!
- WHERE TO DRINK: You must stop in the Hole in the Wall! It’s a fun and tiny tavern that, yes, is mostly patronized by tourists, but the bartender is so lively and it’s the best place to talk to fellow travelers. If this had been on of our first stops on our trip, we could have planned our whole trip on recommendations!
- WHAT TO SEE: Kilkenny is full of medieval history, but we kept our history tour limited to Kilkenny Castle. While the castle dates back to 1155, it is being restored to resemble its early 20th century state.
- WHERE TO STAY: We went the Airbnb route in Kilkenny and stayed at a place that was about 20 minutes outside the city towards Dublin. Since we knew that we probably wouldn’t be staying out late in Kilkenny, it made sense to get a head start on our travel since our trip was coming to a close.
DAY SIX: KILKENNY TO DUBLIN
On our second to last day in Ireland, we drove an hour and a half from Kilkenny to Dublin. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I heard again and again before our trip that Dublin wasn’t worth spending much time in. I can’t emphasize how wrong that was. We only had a day in Dublin and I easily could have spent at least 3 days there taking in the history, the food, the pubs, and just how incredibly hip and design centered the culture is. I was all in on Dublin.
- WHERE TO EAT: We had some great food in Dublin! Our day started off with lunch at Bewley’s on Grafton Street, though, honestly, I’d skip that – it’s overrated and overpriced. We were able to save lunch by making a trip to Queen of Tarts on my mission to try Guiness cake and, let me tell you, it will change your life. Next time, I’d just grab a light sandwich at Queen of Tarts before bingeing on the cake. A few drinks later, I stopped in The Rolling Donut for a carb heavy snack to tide me over until dinner.That evening, we went outside of town a bit to a charming suburb of Dublin where we ate at the incredibly delicious and cozy
Lobstar. Adam had read about Lobstar somewhere online months ago and immediately made a reservation. It’s a buzzy little restaurant and since we were the only ones without Irish restaurants in there, we felt like really stumbled upon a local gem. They did make my night when they served a dessert announcing it as “chocolate on a stone on wooden bark” or something of the sort. Serious Chef’s Table moment.
- WHERE TO DRINK: It may be touristy, but we spent a fun couple hours drinking in The Temple Bar Pub while simultaneously watching a rugby match and the stag (bachelor) party that was going on next to us. We attempted to find the famous The No Name Bar, and instead stumbled into Idlewild, which ended up being a far better alternative. A loungey bar with a Saul Bass/Alfred Hitchcock inspired menu was ideal for a Saturday evening.The drinking highlight of our time in Dublin? Teeling’s Distillery. Skip Guiness, skip Jameson, and check out this craft distillery for some smooth Irish whiskey and a whole lot of history.
- WHERE TO SHOP: The shopping in Dublin was incredible! There were hip, artsy, minimalist design and clothing stores on every block it seemed. Some of my favorites? The Irish Design Shop, its next door neighbor Industry and Co, and the massive Powerscourt Centre. Adam kept talking me out of buying things by telling me I could find them online later and without the exchange rate that certainly isn’t in our favor, but, guess what, I haven’t found anything as cool as the home items and jewelry I saw in Dublin.
- WHAT TO SEE: Browse up and down Grafton Street, stroll through the Trinity College campus, stroll through St. Stephen’s Green, and check out the Temple Bar neighborhood. We had a wonderful time just taking in all of the lively sights and sounds of Dublin as we walked from one destination to the next.
- WHERE TO STAY: We stayed in a pretty terrible hotel right next to St. Stephen’s Green. All I have to say on that one is, way to sell something completely different than advertised, Expedia. The location, however, was perfect for exploring the city, and I would absolutely recommend staying somewhere in that vicinity.
DAY SEVEN: BACK HOME
After seven days in the Emerald Isle, it was time to head back home. We had a late morning flight back, so we woke up semi-leisurely, packed our bags, drove to the airport with fingers crossed that we wouldn’t owe anything for all the scratches we put on our rental car, and headed back to DC. Pro tip: the rental car agency won’t say a thing about the scratches.
THOUGHTS ON A WEEK IN IRELAND
This second part of our trip to Ireland covered the last 4 days of our trips, and while I feel like we could have easily spent another day in each city – particularly Dublin – a week in Ireland was totally doable for covering much of the country. We saw a variety of stunning landscapes, multiple charming towns, and experienced the Irish culture we hoped to discover. If you’re planning your own Ireland trip, a week is definitely sufficient, though I wouldn’t try to do much less than that unless you only plan on seeing one or two cities. Also, I do have just one more Ireland post planned for y’all, so stay tuned…